As your mama, it is part of my job to teach you lessons throughout your entire life. Most lessons I am excited to teach, and some I admittedly dread (Birds and the bees? NOT YET, PLEASE.). One of the most precious and difficult lessons that I will ever teach you is to love your body.
The person that you are on the inside will always be far more valuable than the image that you carry on the outside. Your Daddy and I are working together to encourage all of the kindness, intelligence, perseverance, and bravery that we can in each of you.
If you happen to be the funniest person in the room and/or slay it on the dance floor, we certainly wouldn’t be disappointed (Tip: Always have a good Dad joke to share. Thank me later.).
Saying “Sir” or “Ma’am” and “Please” & “Thank you” to show respect to all human beings that cross your path, regardless of their station in life, will HANDS DOWN make you razzle dazzle any audience (insert jazz hands here). It is essential for you to understand that the loving values that you carry in your heart and soul will radiate onto your sweet little face, and instantly light a glow around you.
All of those things matter infinitely more than your dress size or the contour of your eyebrows. Infinitely.
With that being said, I want you to love the vessel that carries all of those wonderful elements inside of you. Being a girl is hard enough…you will be judged for the way you look every single day. You do not need to make it any harder on yourself by not loving your body. Believe me when I say, you don’t have time for that.
In the seven brief years that I have been a mother, I have been fortunate enough to watch each of you grow and change, becoming more and more uniquely yourself with each passing day.
Your eyes are full of sunshine when you smile, and a river of emotion when tears brim. The music of your giggle can brighten the grumpiest of faces. And your skin…OH, YOUR SKIN! I still love reflecting on the ways that you’ve changed since I first held you in my arms.
The shape of your bodies and features is ever changing and will continue to be a source of joy (and sadness) as the year’s pass.
You will go through periods of time where you can’t stop looking at yourself in the mirror because you will dig the reflection staring back at you. You will also experience times where you can’t stop looking in the mirror and hating every inch of your body, from the freckles on your nose down to the shape of your toenails.
I get it. I’ve been there.
We live in a world where it is easier and more acceptable to find the flaws than revel in the splendor of individuality.
Here’s what I will work towards helping you to understand: Every person on this planet is unique, and that only adds to the beauty in this world, including YOU. All of the parts of your body that are soft and curvaceous are beautiful. The parts of your body that are hard and unyielding are beautiful. Your face is so very uniquely yours and is insanely beautiful.
I won’t pretend that you will always absorb or listen to my words when I try to explain to you just how incredible your body is. I put my body through major cosmetic surgery, because no amount of exercise, cellulite cream, or prayers would tighten the stomach that endured decades of unhealthy habits and three pregnancies.
I worked hard to lose weight, and then I worked hard to gain muscle. When no other solution was going to cure the sadness I felt when the loose skin glared back at me in the mirror, despite all of my best efforts, I turned to a plastic surgeon to remove it.
I worried and worried about the effect that my surgery would have on you three. I wondered how I was going to possibly teach you, girls, to love your body when I felt the need to have my body issues addressed surgically. Your Daddy stepped in and reminded me that I had already done all of the hard work and that I wanted my surgery in order to love my body as much as I knew I could, and that’s all we could ever want for you: To love your bodies as much as you can.
It took me 32 years to truly learn self-care and really love my body, giant hip-to-hip scar, cellulite, and faded stretch marks all included. 32 years to wear clothes that I am comfortable in. To feel confident enough to not wear makeup every day to distract glances away from my body. To not tease my hair as high as the heavens (though I do still have a supply of stiff hold hairspray, just in case). 32 years, to not give a fffffffff if anyone else thought that I was unworthy of loving my body enough to expose it in a bikini for the first time in my life. 32 years.
I don’t want that for you.
I want you to celebrate the magnificent individual that you are. I want you to know that more people will look at you and think that you are beautiful than the amount of people that look at you and critique your body. Even though it is absolutely NONE of their concern. I want your own personal style to reflect just how confident you are in your own skin and how much you love and respect the vehicle that gives you life every day.
Your body can astound you with the things that it is capable of if you let it. Please do your best not to hate your body, ever. Treat your body kindly with healthy foods and exercise to fuel it for all of the amazing adventures that it will take you on throughout your life.
There will be people who you meet who will do their best to tear your body apart. For all of the humans who tell you how gorgeous you are, it can take only one individual to tell you otherwise because it makes them feel better about the hurt they carry inside, or their very own insecurities regarding their own bodies. One person can strip away the love you have for your body by entering your mind and convincing you that the years of self-love were wasted.
All I can ask is that you stay strong and courageous, and prove to yourself, more than anyone else, that you can ignore hurtful comments.
And please, please, pretty please, do not ever tear another person down by insulting their looks. It’s just rude. We aren’t raising you like that.
Instead, tell as many people as you can how beautiful they are. Compliment their eyes, their smile, or even their strength. Compliments are free. Not once has my day not been made better when someone paid me a compliment, so do that for someone. Be that person.
They may even pay you a compliment back, reminding you to love your own body even more.
The path toward loving your body is a never-ending journey. As you grow and age, you will find new things that you love about your vessel, or you may discover new ways that your body betrays you (like, what the hell is the one thick black hair doing growing out of my chin?!).
I see you in ways that you can never see yourself. I am already so proud of each of you. I hope that one day, you will understand just how truly beautiful you are.
I love you, My Darlings. Every inch of you.
Jenelle Stathes married her high-school sweetheart and they share their love with their three darling and fierce daughters. She works as the CEO of their small family business and as a group fitness instructor for a local gym. Jenelle was born and raised right here in Reno, Nevada, and is doing her best at living a non-judgy and tribe-loving mom life. She has experience with infertility, weight loss, body positivity, fitness, and most recently, a tummy tuck. You can follow Jenelle to laugh either with her or at her as she traverses through the daily adventures of motherhood.